I recently became aware of a very strange argument used by the feminists, about a so-called “subject-object dichotomy”, where “subject acts, and object is acted upon”, and women are supposedly seen by elements of society as playing the role of an object, where they are acted upon without much sensible interaction or even consent.
I must admit it’s one of the stupidest things I’ve heard lately, and I heard so many stupid things I’m drowning in them.
You see, the implication is that women need to be an important factor whose consent is required in all things that concern them, and whose opinion and judgment is a cornerstone of every decision. They are not. Most people, most of the time, are objects. Furthermore, they are background noise. They are irrelevant, they get in the way and we don’t give one third of a fuck about them. When I take a bus I don’t want to interact with other passengers. I don’t want to see them as persons with whom I would have meaningful interactions. I don’t even want them to be there in the first place. I just want them to mind their fucking business enough so that I can pretend they aren’t there, so that I can get where I’m going while knowing as little as possible about them as persons. To me, they are not the reason why I’m in the bus, they are the undesired side-effect of public transportation. The reason why I’m in the bus is that I need to go from A to B while my car is being serviced. This type of ignoring others can be an act of kindness, because reducing interaction in a crowded space where interaction is not desired is actually a way to show respect and to be polite. It’s the same thing as not talking loudly in a plane, where people can’t get away from the noise you produce and would even want to sleep, pretending you don’t exist, as difficult as that might be.
So basically, when you have a video game with non-playable characters, or a movie with background casts of passers-by, taxi drivers or people who sell newspapers to the main character, their unimportance isn’t a big philosophical issue of them being reduced to objects; it’s merely an accurate portrayal of the basic fact of urban life, which is that you are constantly surrounded by unimportant people you don’t give a fuck about and who live an existence that is completely parallel to yours. It doesn’t matter whether they are men or women, businessmen or beggars. You just want to be left alone in order to be able to live your life without constant dispersal of attention and energy into things that do not really concern you. So that’s one thing – for most people, you’re not a person. You are background noise they try very hard to ignore because they are trying to live their lives.
The second aspect is context which gives an interaction its ethical value. Sometimes treating someone like an object is bad, sometimes it is neutral and sometimes it is good. If someone you talk to acts condescendingly towards you, ignores your opinions with a dismissive attitude, addresses your opinions while talking to someone else as if you don’t exist, it’s a real problem. That’s where being treated like a non-person, or a non-subject, really matters and where it’s something that is ethically and morally wrong. Sometimes, as in cases where a criminal rapes and kills a random victim whom he sees as a drop-in replacement for someone he really has a problem with, and not as an independent real person, this can be purely evil. However, in most cases, as in our previous example of politely ignoring the other people on the street or in public transportation, it can be neutral or even positive. In some cases, for instance a firefighter responding to a call and saving a family from a building, it can be a really great thing – you don’t want to feel profound personal obligation and gratitude towards a firefighter who saved yours and your family’s lives, you really want him to treat this event as business as usual, where you and your family are merely objects of his daily work, like a cat stuck on a tree or needing to pump water out of someone’s basement. The feminists can bitch all they want about not wanting women to be portrayed as “damsels in distress”, but honestly, they really do. They really, really want society to feel an automatic reflex of helping women in distress, because when someone starts unzipping his pants to rape you, and you scream for help, you really want the accidental passer-by to see you as an object, as a damsel in distress, and to react instinctively to protect you, whether by beating the wannabe rapist up, or by calling the police and then beating him up. You don’t want him to have a meaningful interaction with you as a person, you just need immediate and concrete help in your generic situation which is covered by the “damsel in distress” social clause, requiring accidental passers-by and casual bystanders to actually do something constructive without any reward, any personal reason and any personal interaction.
You don’t like being an object in someone else’s world? Well better get used to it, because that’s exactly what you are. You are not important, you are not empowered, you are not the reason why other people are on the street. You are mostly ignored, sometimes you are acted upon, and sometimes you act, but if you think you’ll ever get to be the important factor in every possible interaction, you desperately need to have your ego checked before your nose starts interfering with air traffic. And be fucking thankful for the “damsel in distress trope” because that’s the society’s way of reiterating the need for accidental bystanders to help you when you have a heart attack on the street, or when someone wants to fuck you against your will while holding a knife at your throat while you cry for somebody, anybody to help you. Not to have a meaningful interaction with you as a person because he admires and respects your personality, but because you are a damsel in distress and he is expected to help those.
And if you think only women are portrayed as objects in movies and games, you’re out of your fucking mind, because you obviously didn’t play the latest Tomb Raider where Lara Croft kills unimportant men as easily and as trivially as she kills deer for food, and you didn’t see the movies from the Marvel universe where the Black Widow routinely, trivially and callously dispatches dozens of men with the trivial ease one would feel while brushing his teeth in the morning while thinking about what shirt to wear.
And if you actually watched all that and didn’t see a problem with it, then fuck you, because you are a pompous, callous idiot. Go have a meaningful interaction with a surgeon while being operated on, instead of being anaesthetized and treated as a mere object.